Veterans Affairs halts spending on 188
healthcare IT projects
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Veterans
Affairs Department, which runs an extensive system of hospitals and
clinics, has suspended work on 188 of 280 health information technology
It’s the second round of program suspensions, re-evaluations, restarts
and terminations under the VA’s Program Management Accountability
System. The first round started in July 2009 and resulted in the
suspension of 45 projects. Currently, only 92 IT projects, or about a
third of the total at the VA, are authorized to keep spending funds.
As a result of the new suspensions, the VA anticipates “substantially
more” savings in its IT budget this year than the $54 million in savings
announced earlier, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said. He did
not provide a current estimate of the savings.
The new figures represent an expansion of the VA’s Program Management
Accountability System that Baker started with the 45 troubled IT
projects. In February, all 280 IT projects in the department were placed
under the system.
On Feb. 24, Baker announced a savings of $54 million as a result of
terminating 12 failed IT projects of the initial group of 45 suspended
He also said that 32 projects had been restarted and one was still under
In statements on April 19 and 21, Baker updated the status of all 280 IT
projects at the department. As of April 20, 92 IT projects are “active”
and able to spend down their budgets, 93 are “in planning,” 53 are “not
started,” 21 are “closed,” and 21 are “other,” Baker wrote in an e-mail
The 21 projects designated as closed represent projects that have been
either terminated or completed.
“It is clear we are not spending a lot of money right now,” Baker said
in an interview. “We are being very tight on which projects we are
starting to work on.”
The 93 projects listed as “in planning” are undergoing re-evaluations
and reconfigurations. Most are likely to be restarted once the
re-planning is completed. “We are restarting projects all the time,”
Baker said. “I am in no hurry to spend the money until I know it can be
VA officials also previously announced that the department expects to
save $37 million this year by stopping work on a portion of the
Replacement Scheduling Application Development program. That program
represents about two-thirds of the $54 million in previously announced
savings. Officials also said the scheduling program might be restarted.
Posted May 6, 2010